3. Peyton Manning (2012-15)
The Peyton Manning era for the Denver Broncos is, for some fans of the team, the best they can really even remember.
Peyton Manning was the #1 overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1998 NFL Draft, a pick famous for the decision the Colts had to make, at the time, between Manning and fellow star prospect Ryan Leaf.
It's one of the most fortunate decisions in NFL Draft history as Manning turned out to be an all-time great and Ryan Leaf quickly became a major NFL Draft bust.
For many years, Peyton Manning terrorized the Denver Broncos (and everyone else he played against) to the tune of four MVP awards and eight top-five finishes in MVP voting from 1999-2010 as one of the most dominant players in NFL history. Manning was 6-2 against the Denver Broncos in regular season play and 2-0 against the Broncos in the playoffs for a stellar 8-2 record against the Broncos overall.
One of those two losses to Denver came in a game in which Manning started but threw only two passes (2004). Manning didn't miss that game due to injury, either. The Colts put him on the sideline after letting him get the start because they were about to play the Broncos the very next week in the playoffs. In that very next week, Manning torched Denver for the second consecutive year with a 145.7 passer rating and 458 yards passing with 4 TDs.
The year before that, Manning had a perfect 158.3 passer rating against the Broncos in the playoffs.
Needless to say, before Manning came to Denver to wear the orange and blue, he was hated by Broncos Country. The reasons are obvious.
Then, he became arguably the most beloved figure in Denver sports history with one of the best four-year stretches you will ever see for a QB in NFL history. Even with the struggle that was Manning's 2015 season, he managed to quickly ascend to 2nd in Denver Broncos history with over 17,000 passing yards as a Bronco. That included his record-setting 2013 season in which he threw for 5,477 yards en route to his 5th NFL MVP Award.
Even with the inclusion of a 17th game, no quarterback in today's NFL has been able to top that. That still stands alone as the most in NFL history, as does Manning's record of an astounding 55 touchdown passes that season. Only three players in league history have even reached 50 (Tom Brady in 2007, Patrick Mahomes in 2018).
Manning became the first quarterback in NFL history to lead multiple teams to a Super Bowl victory and he walked off into the sunset following Super Bowl 50.